Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis says he'll run again — for New Jersey Senate.
"When I run — as you see from my record — I run to win," the 49-year-old Lewis said outside a historic courthouse in his home county, where he announced his candidacy Monday with his mother and other family members standing nearby.
Lewis said he hopes to inspire people, encourage communities to get together and improve educational opportunities, particularly physical education, for children. He said he'll announce a specific issue-based platform in coming days.
This is his first bid for elected office. In fact, he said he had registered to vote earlier in the day but said he had been registered previously in California and Texas, two states he has recently lived in.
Lewis will run as a Democrat in the 8th legislative district now represented by Republican Dawn Addiego.
Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and is considered among the best track and field athletes of all time.
In Los Angeles in 1984, he won gold in the 100 and 200 meters, long jump and 4x100-meter relay. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, he triumphed in the 100 meters and long jump. In the 1992 Games in Barcelona, he won the long jump and anchored the U.S. 4x100 relay team that won in world record time. He won his fourth straight Olympic gold in the long jump in 1996 at Atlanta.
He is a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame last May.
Lewis said he understands he's entering the rough-and-tumble world of New Jersey politics, but said he felt "it's time to get in the dance." He joked that he is "slower than I used to be," but said he was ready to visit all 20 towns in his district.
"I'll be an independent thinker all the way through. I will do what I think is right. I'm going to always look at the issues and vote that way," Lewis said after the announcement.
Lewis has been a civic activist and community volunteer. He ended the news conference so he could get to Willingboro High School, where he has been a volunteer track coach for four years.
Monday is the filing deadline for anyone who wants to run for the New Jersey Legislature.
All 120 seats of the Senate and Assembly will be on November's ballot.